Sea Lion Pool
The Sea Lion Pool or Sea Lion Habitat was a former animal exhibit at the Birmingham Zoo.
The exhibit was funded by Parisian stores, and the members and friends of the Alabama Zoological Society, as a gift "to all children". Architects Felton Collier and Caroll Harmon designed the exhibit for six animals. It was constructed by the Montabana Corporation and dedicated on May 8, 1974. The first group of five sea lions were introduced to the pool in June 1975. The animals, one male and four females, and all estimated to be about one year old, were captured in the wild off the coast of California. The zoo paid $4,150 for the sea lions, who were flown as cargo from Los Angeles to Birmingham .
Some "corrections" were made to the exhibit in 1981 and more cracks in the plaster coating were repaired in 1993.
Twice daily "feeding and training" sessions at sea lion exhibit were a major entertainment at the zoo, and the sea lions were regularly recognized as favorites in polls of zoo visitors. Long-time senior marine and small mammal keeper Charles "Jack" Perry served as host and emcee until his retirement in 1992. The training component was expanded in 1998 with each of the four sea lions being assigned to a separate keeper-trainer.
On April 3, 2007 the exhibit was expanded into the Sea Lion Splash Show with a newly-resurfaced pool area, new bleacher seating, a net shade covering and other additions sponsored by Red Diamond.
Along with the opening of the remodeled exhibit, the zoo introduced two new sea lions, Bart and Cicely who, along with Triton, performed daily shows to further the zoo's educational mission by showing off the personalities of marine mammals.
In 2023 the zoo decided to close the exhibit. Resident sea lions Farley and Gio were transferred to the New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center at the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts as part of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums' California Sea Lion Species Survival Plan.
The following is a list of sea lions and the years they called the Birmingham Zoo home. Sea lions live an average of 15 to 20 years in the wild, and can live as long as 25 to 30 years in captivity.
- Name unknown, arrived in 1975, died in 1984
- Shy, arrived in 1975, died in 1992
- Jaws, arrived in 1975, died in 1998
- Rumplesealskin, arrived in 1975, died in 2000
- Julie, arrived in 1975, died in 2005
- Emil, born at the zoo in 1980; died 1981
- Name unknown, born 1983 at the zoo, died 1983 from stress caused by abandonment by its mother
- Name unknown, born at the zoo in June 1985, died in September 1985
- Name unknown, born at the zoo in June 1986 (born), died in August 1986
- Carmel, born at the zoo in 1986, released in 1989
- Name unknown, born at the zoo in May 1987, died in July 1987
- Pismo, born at the zoo in 1988, released in 1989
- Neptune, born at the zoo in 1989, died in 1992
- Triton, born at the zoo in 1990, transferred in 2010
- Bart, arrived in 2007, transferred in 2010
- Cicely, arrived in 2007, transferred in 2010
- Farley, born c. 2008 in the Pacific Ocean, arrived in 2010, transferred spring 2023
- Giovanni ("Gio"), born c. 2008 in the Pacific Ocean, arrived in 2010, transferred spring 2023
This list is incomplete and may never satisfy any subjective standard for completeness. You can help Bhamwiki by expanding it.
- Barton, Olivia (June 26, 1975) "Zoo's sea lions make themselves at home." The Birmingham News via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- "Sea lions happy in new home" (July 10, 1975) The Birmingham News
- Harvey, Anne (July 6, 1983) "Stress killed sea-lion pup, vets say" The Birmingham News via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Bryant, Walter (May 15, 1989) "Zoo to free two sea lions into Pacific" The Birmingham News via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- "Jack Perry to retire after years with zoo" (January 29, 1992) The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Walter (February 15, 1998) "Sea Lions No. 1" The Birmingham News
- "Popular Sea Lion Dies At Zoo In Birmingham" (September 18, 2000) The Tuscaloosa News - accessed February 26, 2014
- "Sea lion fans get front-row seat at feeding time." (April 6, 2007) The Birmingham News
- "Database: U.S. Marine Mammal Inventory." (March 24, 2010) Sun-Sentinel (from National Marine Fisheries Service data) - accessed February 26, 2014
- Garrison, Greg (April 17, 2023) "Birmingham Zoo plans shutdown of Sea Lion Habitat." The Birmingham News